Why The Blacklist Decided To Recast A Certain Character For Season 8

the blacklist season 8 premiere liz keen roanoke

Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 8 premiere of The Blacklist on NBC, called "Roanoke."

The Blacklist has finally made its return to NBC after a prolonged hiatus with "Roanoke," and the episode kicked Season 8 off to an intense and surprising start. Of course, not entirely surprising was the reveal that Katarina isn't the best influence on her daughter, but Liz's betrayal of both Red and the entire task force was a step beyond what fans may have expected, especially since she shared a kiss with Ressler in the episode as well! One of the most notable reveals of the episode, however, had to do with a character who has been recast: Dom.

Although Dom woke up from his coma before the unconventional end of The Blacklist Season 7, the death of actor Brian Dennehy seemed like the end of Dom in the show. Even though he didn't pass away in his coma as I for one expected, it still seemed more than a little possible that The Blacklist would kill the character early in Season 8, perhaps off-screen or with a body double. Instead, Guiding Light veteran Ron Raines is tackling the role moving forward, and executive producer John Eisendrath explained the decision to recast Dennehy to TVLine, saying:

It’s always difficult to make that kind of decision. It is incredibly sad that people we’ve come to know and work with and admire have passed away. In this case, while on the one hand [Dennehy] is irreplaceable, on the other hand, the story was at a place where [Dom] was absolutely instrumental in it. He’s the central point of the story. He knows a truth that everyone is trying to figure out. So while it was a difficult decision to do, we felt it was necessary, and we hope people understand that.

According to John Eisendrath, the plan for The Blacklist's twisty and turn-y plot had Dom at the center before Brian Dennehy's death. The actor passed away due to natural causes at the age of 81 back in April, and the Blacklist team used existing and previously filmed content to include Dennehy as Dom in the season finale, which used animation to complete elements that couldn't be finished before the production shutdowns throughout the entertainment industry.

The decision to recast Brian Dennehy evidently wasn't easy for John Eisendrath and Co. at The Blacklist, but there was clearly a lot more story to be told. "Roanoke" certainly delivered some big twists when it came to Dom. When Katarina needed to get Dom alone to try and get some answers out of him -- which is generally not an easy thing when it comes to characters on The Blacklist -- the plan came together to kidnap Dom when he was being relocated.

To Liz's credit, she wasn't immediately on board with abducting her grandfather, but she went through with it, betraying Red and the task force in the process. The abduction of Dom has already set off a chain of events that might lead nowhere good for Liz Keen, but may make for some very exciting stories in Season 8 of The Blacklist. I'm having trouble speculating how Liz will get herself out of this one, but it is still very early in the season. Take a look at Ron Raines playing Dom in the premiere:

the blacklist season 8 premiere ron raines dom nbc

(Image credit: NBC)

Based on executive producer John Eisendrath's comments, I think it's safe to say that fans will see a fair amount of Ron Raines in Season 8. That's not to say that Dom will definitely outlast his current circumstances on The Blacklist, but the important plot centered on him can still unfold as intended with Raines playing the character. Only time will tell what The Blacklist has in store next for Dom and the rest, and how Raines does in the role.

You can catch new episodes of The Blacklist Season 8 on NBC Fridays at 8 p.m. ET. For some additional viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere guide and our 2021 winter and midseason premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).